To help the new 2014 Silverado measure up to the rugged tasks expected of full-size pickups by commercial fleet customers, engineers chose high-strength steels for the backbone of the new trucks – the fully boxed frames and the structure of the cabs that carry and protect the occupants.
To ensure that the new Silverado is up to the challenge of today’s end users, key elements of the updated frame, including the main rails and major cross members, are made from high-strength steel, according to the automaker. Hydroforming is used to improve strength and reduce mass of the front of the frame.
The cab structures are all new, and incorporate high strength steel in the A-pillars, B-pillars, roof rails, and rocker panels. Ultra-high-strength steel is used in areas of the rocker panels and underbody in anticipation of new shallow-offset crash tests. In all, about two-thirds of the cab structure is made from high-strength steels, according to GM.
Even the pickup bed benefits from tougher steels. The 2014 Silverado 1500 features a roll-formed steel pickup box, which is lighter, stronger and more durable than traditional stamped steel boxes used by major competitors.
Aluminum is used in a number of areas to reduce mass without compromising dependability. The blocks and cylinder heads of all three EcoTec3 engines are cast aluminum, while 4WD crew cab models use forged aluminum upper front control arms and cast aluminum lower control arms and steering knuckles for a mass reduction of 42 pounds. The hoods are also aluminum, saving 17 pounds over a comparable steel panel, according to the company.
The strategic use of high strength steels, aluminum and other premium materials enabled engineers to create a new Silverado that is stronger, more capable and more efficient than current models, while still being lighter than comparable models from a key competitor, according to GM.
To help validate its design and materials for the 2014 Silverado, GM’s new full-size trucks will undergo more than 6 million miles of durability testing on proving grounds and tough test roads, equivalent to 240 trips around the earth, according to GM. In addition, the trucks will accumulate real-world mileage in excess of 7 million miles during final testing, bringing total test miles to more than 13 million.